The forgotten miles

Childbirth and marathon training: I have decided the two are a little alike. Not much, obviously – one involves pushing a fully grown human infant out of your lady bits, while the other requires you to put one foot in front of the other, over and over, for 26.2 miles.

Similarity one: when you see it written down in black and white, both seem faintly ridiculous.

Then there’s the pain and exhaustion. Now, I’m not for one minute suggesting the pain experienced when running a very long way is even in the same league as heaving a baby out of your body (30 hours of labour. Enough said), but let’s face it, both smart a bit. Which is why I’m sometimes a little astonished at (a) the fact women haven’t held their hands up, declared “Enough’s enough” and let the human race slowly peter out, and (b) the sheer number of people who put themselves through the marathon experience, year after year. We must be fools.

BUT, here’s where I will let you in on a crazy little fact: you forget.

“What?!” I hear you ask? All those hours of labour? Of contractions, panting, exhaustion and fear? Similarly, all those months of hard slog? Of long, repetitive training runs in the dark winter months, when you can’t see through the rain and your shins feel like someone’s driving red hot needles through them? You just… forgot about that bit?

Yep. *Puff* – gone, in a cloud of smoke.

This possibly explains why, when faced with the chance to cuddle a newborn these days, my uterus gets all excited, when really, after what it’s been through it should be muttering “F*ck that” under its breath, evacuating my body by any means possible and hurling itself directly off the nearest available cliff.

However, while baby number three is definitely off the cards (honest), marathon number three is firmly in my sights, as evidenced by the fact that, at week six of my training plan, I am currently in that wholly ‘forgotten’ bit: the hard slog bit; the winter months bit; the driving rain bit. And – with the long runs now hitting the 90-minute plus mark – it’s all getting a bit, well, hurty.

Good job for a spot of determination. Because it might be tough, but I know I am tougher. It might hurt, but I know I can cope. It might take all my willpower some days to drag my reluctant body out of the door for an hour’s threshold run in the cold, but I know I am getting fitter and stronger. And you know what? That feels kind of good.

And, just like the sheer relief you feel when the midwife hands you your precious newborn, I know that however painful it gets on marathon day itself, the crowds, the race-day atmosphere and the culmination of four months of tough training will make it all worthwhile.

war-child4-copy

My mini support crew

I’m also running to raise money for a cause that is so important, especially in today’s global uncertainty. War Child helps to protect and rehabilitate children who have been caught up in some of the world’s most hostile conflicts. I can’t even begin to imagine the trauma these kids have experienced or the atrocities they’ve witnessed, but War Child gives them safety and hope, and I want to turn my marathon miles into money for them to continue their vital, life-saving work. If you’d like to support me, or even just find out more about War Child’s work, you can check out my fundraising page here.

In the meantime, I have more miles to tick off my training plan. I’ll keep you posted…

Be kind, be brave

We haven’t quite hit the 1st January, but with just a couple of days to go, I thought it wouldn’t be out of place to mention the ‘R’ word.

Resolutions.

They’re everywhere. From pledges of getting fitter and healthier, to drinking less and relaxing more, you can pretty much guarantee you will have at least one conversation about New Year’s resolutions at some point from now until the end of January.

As for me? I get caught up in the wave of pledges too. This year, my list started to get pretty lengthy:

1/ Attempt to not lose my shit quite so much at the various toddler/child meltdown combos that are a regular daily feature.

2/ Attempt to not lose my shit quite so much at my husband, for not instantly knowing what I am thinking/not realising I am always right/not hearing either child cry out between the hours of 10pm and 6am, and instead SLEEPING THROUGH THE FUCKING NIGHT (*takes deep breath*).

3/ Attempt to not lose my shit quite so much at the many inanimate objects that frequently attempt to ruin my day (screw you sippy cup lid that WILL NOT come off the BASTARD CUP).

4/ Accept I am probably not always right (sorry Steve. You are bloody awesome. Sometimes).

5/ Drastically reduce the amount of single-use plastic we use, because, you know, sea creatures (I have actually made a good start on this one and our bathroom is now virtually plastic-free. Solid shampoo? Seriously, it’s wondrous stuff).

5/ Stop crapping myself at the idea of running 26.2 miles at the Virgin Money London Marathon on 23rd April.

6/ Throw myself into marathon training in order to stop crapping myself at the idea of running 26.2 miles at the Virgin Money London Marathon on 23rd April.

7/ Do everything I can to raise awareness of the work of my chosen charity, War Child, who, while I am dicking around shouting at sippy cups, are doing incredible and vital work with children caught in conflict zones and refugee camps across the globe.

8/ Realise that, however bleak any situation might seem, there is always something positive I can do, even if it’s simply signing a petition for something I believe in.

I’ll be honest, my list of resolutions could go on, so to avoid boring the hell out of you, I realised that, in fact, they could all be encapsulated in four short words:

be-kind-be-brave

Because this, quite simply, is what every one of my resolutions boils down to. Be kind to my family, my friends, my neighbours; be kind to those I do not know; be kind to those in situations I hope I never have to encounter; be kind to the planet; be kind to myself (in order to help me not lose my shit quite so often… and to forgive myself when I do). Be brave enough to stand up for the things I believe in; and be brave enough to lace up my running shoes and give those hundreds of training miles – and the big day itself – everything I’ve got for the next four months.

Be kind. Be brave.

Happy New Year to all the lovely people who have read my blog this year. I truly appreciate your support x

The A-Z of running for mums

THE A-Z OF RUNNING FOR MUMS

Recently had a baby and struggling to balance parenthood with running? This essential A to Z of running for mums will set you in the right direction!

mum-with-running-buggy

ABS
Your abdominal muscles go through a lot during pregnancy. This is normal: you’ve just grown a baby. You don’t need to stress about fitting back into your jeans right now (or ever – see ‘W’). However, your core is important when you return to running, to help with stability, strength and injury prevention. Moves such as the plank will benefit your running (only after your postnatal check-up).

BREASTS
As a new mum, your breasts go through a lot. Never mind the soreness – who knew you would be able to keep an actual human alive through the power of your left boob? In the early days, you might think you will forever more have a small human/breast pump attached to your mammaries, but I promise there will come a time when running will fit into your baby’s feeding schedule.

When this happens, make sure you get fitted for a new sports bra for maximum support, and you might find it more comfortable to run after feeding your baby. (NB: obviously breastfeeding can be tough and it’s also not for everyone. No judgment here.)

CHILDCARE
Yep, you’re going to need this if you start running (obviously if Dad’s with them, it’s simply called parenting).

DOUBT
You might find any self-doubt you harboured pre-kids vanishes once you’re a mum. Your body has MADE A HUMAN. You’re amazing. So yes, it goes without saying you can now smash that hill session/5K/marathon.

ENDORPHINS
Suffering with baby blues and exhaustion? Exercise is a great way to get those endorphins (the happy hormone) kicking in. But if you think you may be suffering from post-natal depression it’s important to also seek professional support from your GP. However alone you feel, you are not. Mums everywhere have your back.

FREEDOM
There is just something about the open road (or trail path) that is the antidote to batshit-crazy toddler behaviour and Peppa Pig on repeat. Run free!

GUILT
You might have noticed that, along with the arrival of your bundle of joy, came Mum Guilt. Mum Guilt is all-pervasive and makes you feel like you’re doing a bad job most of the time. Guilt will tell you you’re ABANDONING your children if you go for a run. Here’s the thing: Mum Guilt is bullsh*t. So stop it in its tracks. Go for that run! You deserve it. In fact, running is the best antidote to Mum Guilt – many mums report they feel like a better parent after a good run.

HELP
If it’s offered, take it. Seriously. Looking after children is hard work. If a relative wants to help out so you can get some rest or me-time, who are you to stop them?

INJURY
Take things slowly when returning to running post-birth. The hormone relaxin (which makes your joints more supple) can hang around in your body for up to six months, so do your strength and conditioning work to support your running.

JOY
Motherhood can sometimes feel like a bit of a slog, interspersed with intense joy. Running, too, can sometimes feel like a bit of a slog, interspersed with intense joy. Focus on the joy. It will get you through.

KNACKERED
You will be. It gets easier (apparently).

LOVE
You might now spend your days crouched on the floor, rolling the same fire engine back and forth for 57 minutes, with slug trails of snot down your top and play dough mashed into your jeans. But you know what? Those little arms wrapped around your neck? You’ve never known love like it.

MINDFULNESS
This is wonderful for your mental health. Mindfulness is simply the act of being fully present – and running can be a great way to get into the habit. While running, simply focus on your run – the sound of your footfall; your breathing; your surroundings. It will help you accept what is in other areas of your life too – even if what is is a stack of laundry and a toddler clinging to your leg at all times.

NUTRITION
Eat for health (fruit and veg, grains, pulses, dairy and good fats, such as oily fish). And sometimes, eat to get you through the 4pm Witching Hour of a tantruming toddler, a grizzly baby and the background lilt of CBeebies (a whole packet of Jaffa Cakes. While hiding in the kitchen. Washed down with some gin).

OUT TOGETHER
Share your passion for running with your kids! It’s a family-friendly activity, after all – babies of six months or more can come along in a running buggy; children can scoot or cycle alongside you; and when they’re older still, they will love to run with you (eventually they’ll race past you. Try not to feel depressed at their youthful exuberance).

POSTNATAL CHECK-UP
This will be with your GP six to eight weeks after birth. Hold off strenuous exercise until you’ve had the all clear.

QUIET TIME
You might not get to be alone often – even a trip to the loo is an interactive experience for the whole family, what with the baby on your lap and the toddler ramming a toy car into your ankle as you pee (and silently weep for solitude). Running is the perfect opportunity for peace.

RACE DAY
Remember when race-day prep was all about you? About eating a carb-heavy meal the night before, getting adequate sleep and having your race bag packed well in advance? These days, it’s all about making sure the kids have had breakfast and been to the loo, packing enough snacks for bribery and remembering the changing bag. If you wolf down a slice of toast before the starting gun and remember to pin on your race number, YOU’RE WINNING.

SUPPORT
Back in the day, I thought support wouldn’t get better than the time I ran the London Marathon: crowds ten deep; roaring noise; strangers cheering my name. WRONG. Fast forward six years to the time I heard my three-year-old’s voice yelling, ‘Keep Running Mummy!’ as I slogged up a hill. That memory keeps me going on EVERY run.

TRAINING
There’s nothing like the thrill of getting back into a training regime… only to have your child unexpectedly vomit all over your ASICS as you’re heading out the door. Here’s the thing: you can be as dedicated as you like, but once you’re a parent, flexibility is paramount.

Yes, running is important, but kids get sick, partners work late and babysitters cancel. Simply do what you can and don’t beat yourself up if you miss sessions.

UNFLAPPABLE
Once you have sat for 36 hours straight with a poorly child; when you have hugged them, and worried about them, and wiped their brow, and rubbed their back, and felt the kind of love that means you would take on ANY pain if only they could feel better, what’s a little race? Perspective is a wonderful thing. You will nail this sh*t.

VAGINA
Oh boy, your vagina has been through a LOT. Childbirth puts huge strain on your pelvic floor and running can exacerbate this. So do those pelvic floor exercises, ladies! If you didn’t do them during pregnancy, start immediately – imagine your pelvic floor muscle as a hammock strung between your pelvic bone and tail bone, and focus on drawing it up and in. This is THE most important exercise you can do post-childbirth (no-one wants to do a little wee while they run).

WEIGHT LOSS
I’m a big believer in not giving a f*ck about weight loss. Focus on health, on strength, on eating well, on your next running challenge, on loving your family, on laughter, on adventure. Do not focus on a number on the bathroom scales. It’s not important.

X-TRAINING
Now you’re a mum, you’ll find most of your life qualifies as cross-training: pushing a buggy loaded with shopping bags while dragging a toddler on a scooter up a hill? Check. Pushing a child on a swing for 17 hours: check. Scrubbing strawberry petit filous off the carpet: check. You might not have time to make it to the gym these days, but trust me, you’re doing your strength work!

YOGA
Even 10 minutes of yoga a few times a week will do wonders for your strength, ease post-run aches and help you relax. Plus, kids LOVE yoga, so if your little ones join in, you can also bask in your positive role model glory.

ZZZZ
Oh, sleep. How we miss you. One day we will be reunited. Until then, we have made good friends with caffeine.

Like what you’ve read? You can also find me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

*Originally featured on The Running Bug*

“Do the goodies always win?”

Superheroes are featuring heavily in my life at the moment. Or rather, they are featuring heavily in my four-year-old son’s life, and so by default I am having to take an active interest.

I’ll be honest: when it comes to motherhood, I have found even the basics utterly bamboozling: How do you strap a screaming, angry toddler into a car seat when they have perfected planking? How do you persuade them to try a teeny tiny piece of carrot at dinner? Why does it take 17 minutes for them to put on one shoe? Where have their socks gone?

I have now reached the next level, where most days I have a series of questions flung at me that I am simply not qualified to answer.

“How does Spiderman climb walls?”

“Who would win in a fight – Batman or Spiderman?”

“Who is fastest, Superman or Flash?”

I am out of my depth on this one.

And then the other day, while he was dressed as Spiderman and had me trapped in his string ‘web’, he asked:

“Mummy, do the goodies always win?”

For a moment, I was floored; unsure how to answer my feisty four-year-old Superhero, as he watched me with innocent eyes.

Because, truth be told, 2016 has kind of shat all over my illusion that this is indeed the case.

In a year where the likes of Farage and Trump have come out on top, shouting their mouths off about ‘Greatness’, when in fact their ideals and ideas are anything but (hands up who would have liked to hear more about tolerance, compassion, equality, diversity, love? Yup, me too), how can I look my child in the eye and tell him that, yes, the good guys always win?

Sometimes, I guess, the bad guys get their moment in the spotlight.

But you know what? However bleak the global horizon seems right now, there is always hope. There are still so many good, good people out there. Helping others. Fighting for humanity. Pulling people ashore. Offering a lifeline. I am in awe of these people, on the front line, volunteering in refugee camps and war zones, and campaining for human rights, right now.

War Child

I am running the Virgin Money London Marathon in 2017 for War Child. I am not running it because I have a whole heap of spare hours on my hands to train (who does?). I am running it because there are thousands of children caught up in conflict zones and living in refugee camps who are in desperate need of help, and I want to do my small part. I am running it because, after a year like 2016, I’m in need of a rather large dose of positivity, hope, generosity, charity, grit, determination and love. I’m not sure if you’ve ever run the London Marathon or gone along to cheer on the participants? If so, you will know it offers all of the above in abundance. The London Marathon is positivity, hope, generosity, charity, grit, determination and love on steroids (not actual steroids, obvs).

You know what else? The small acts of kindness we perform each and every day all add up. I hope through my daily actions, my children are learning the importance of kindness and love. My son knows we donate to the Foodbank because there are people in our area who can’t afford food. Some days he really seems to understand this (other days, he clearly couldn’t give a shit, because he is only four years old and I have dragged him away from Paw Patrol on the telly).

But as long as we all keep demonstrating love and compassion to our children, our families, our neighbours, our fellow humans; if we realise we can each still make a positive difference in this world, then surely love and compassion will prevail. It has to. Because I have so much faith in not just ourselves, but in the next generation.

So, what did I end up telling my son?

“Yes, poppet, good always wins in the end.”

Because that’s what I have to believe.

We all do.

chooselove

#chooselove

Four irritating children’s habits that actually benefit your running (yes, really!)

I’ve been working hard to improve my strength, running pace and overall fitness this past month. For over a year, I’ve been plodding along at the same old pace, covering the same old routes, without ever pushing myself too hard (because, frankly, getting out for a run – whatever speed or distance – has felt challenging enough, what with two little ones to run around after all day, one of whom has NEVER slept through the night).

But enough. After a recent 10K trail race, where I achieved a time of 1:03 while chatting to a friend and not paying any attention to how long it would take me to cross the finish line, I realised something: if I actually put my mind to it, I could see some big improvements. What’s more, I’m at a point where I want to see big improvements. I want to push myself harder. I want to achieve something for me.

A sub-60 10K seemed a good starting point, having not tried to achieve this since before my son was born, four years ago.

I knew I’d have to make more of an effort, though. So I started structuring my running a little better. I didn’t have any more time each week to run, so I had to improve the quality of training: short hill sessions; threshold work (running at a pace described as ‘controlled discomfort’ for set blocks); making time for strength work at home (even if this was just a plank a day); and starting regular yoga classes each week.

It paid off: on Sunday, I ran a very undulating, muddy trail 10K in 58:06. And I couldn’t have felt happier.

But you know what? As I was proudly gazing at my medal, I realised something. My kids have helped me get back to this point, too. Because if I was still working a 9-6 office job, sat on my arse most of the day, the level of training I’d done would not have been enough to knock five minutes off my previous 10K time in just four weeks. Nope. My kids are great at helping me get fit – and usually, it’s when they are at their most infuriating.

Here are four ways my little lovelies have inadvertently helped improve my running…

1/ They can never find anything. EVER.

“Mummy! I need Batman!”
“Well go upstairs and look for him.”
[PAUSE] “He’s NOT HERE!”
“I saw him this morning, he was on your bedroom floor.”
“HE’S NOT HERE!! Mummy, HELP me.”
[RUNS UPSTAIRS] “He’s right there.”
“WHERE?”
“Right in front of you! There! On the floor! By your feet!”
“WHERE?”
“Oh, for the love of… you’ve just STEPPED on him!”
[PAUSE] “Oh. Thanks Mummy.”

batman

This situation is not unusual. Shoes, bag, socks, crayons, toys, books… my son can never seem to locate a single thing independently. Which means I spend a vast majority of my time running all over the house, up and down the stairs, fetching things.

Add it all up, and I reckon those are my 10,000 steps a day, right there.

2/ Their legs inexplicably stop working

To clarify, their legs never simply ‘stop working’ when they are playing superheroes while climbing and leaping all over the sofa. Or when they arrive at the park and spot a swing free from 200m away. Or if you are on your way to any sort of soft play/toy shop/ice-cream van situation.

No.

However, when you’re walking with them through town and are at the furthest possible point from home/a bus stop, and usually when you have your other child in a sling or buggy, and generally speaking, when you are already carrying their scooter/coat/action figure that they HAD to bring but three seconds in have abandoned: right then… that’s when their legs will grind to a halt.

“My legs can’t go ANY more far.”

Oh Lord, how my heart sinks every time my son utters that sentence.

And so ensues all manner of encouragement and bribery, before (usually), I have to carry his stubborn little body home.

After four years of parenting, sometimes I think I should get into weightlifting. I would be awesome.

3/ They are messy

Oh God, the clutter. I’ll be honest here, my home wasn’t exactly the tidiest before I had children… but post-kids? Some days it looks a bomb has gone off in the middle of Toys R Us, and someone has helpfully deposited the debris in the middle of my front room.

I now spend so much time picking up toys at the end of each day, I have turned it to my advantage and devised a mini-workout: simply by gathering up all the Lego, action figures, trains, dolls and general plastic crap through a series of squats and lunges, my evening workout is complete without even thinking about it.

4/ Food refusal

Hand on heart, this is one of the hardest things about parenting. Watching them turn their noses up at a meal you have lovingly prepared feels like the ultimate rejection.

It took me a long time to come to terms with this, but finally I discovered the best way to deal with it (for me, anyway – I’m no parenting expert), is to stay calm, not force them, but not offer an alternative. Dinner is dinner: we all have the same. I make sure there is always something on the plate I know they like: the rest is up to them. And honestly, this strategy has worked. Over time, my two have come to eat a good range of family meals. But some days/dishes are more successful than others. Sometimes, they wolf down every last mouthful, some days they hardly touch it. Mostly, it is somewhere in-between.

But how, I hear you ask, does this help your fitness?

I am no saint: I am quite partial to the odd fishcake here; a few mouthfuls of mashed potato there; a few florets of broccoli one day; a sliver of naan bread the next. Us mums are so often made to feel bad about polishing off kids’ meals. But here’s the thing: if I’ve finished their leftovers, it means I’ve eaten just enough real, actual, nutritious food (OK, sometimes it’s sausages), so that by the time my husband gets home, I can get a run in before their bedtime, fully fuelled and ready to go. And if I’ve eaten something beforehand, it means I have the energy for a tougher session. Job done.

So there you have it: in those moments where it feels like your children are actually attempting to break you on purpose, simply grit your teeth, smile and try to appreciate their ‘help’.

It’s better for you than sitting in an office chair all day.

On the final day of Baby Loss Awareness Week…

In 2011, I found I was pregnant. I was elated – my husband and I had been together for 11 years, married for four, and now, after all that time as a couple, we were about to become ‘the three of us’.

Nothing can compare to the emotions you feel at first seeing those parallel blue lines appear on the pregnancy test – excitement, joy, fear. But one thing was certain: the second I knew I was pregnant, my whole world changed. Those two lines on a white stick were proof of my baby. In my mind, I was already a Mummy.

For almost eight weeks, I thought of nothing else: I attended my first midwife appointment, lovingly stroked my tummy when no-one was looking and my pace slowed significantly every time I happened to walk past Baby Gap.

Which is why, when that small drop of blood appeared when I was almost 12 weeks pregnant, the floor fell away from under me.

Sitting in the small waiting room in the Early Pregnancy Unit, just three days before I was supposed to have been visiting the ultrasound department a few doors along the same corridor, I started to console myself.

It was just one small drop of blood.

My baby was fine.

I wasn’t having a miscarriage.

As it was all merely a precaution, I actually became excited when we were called in to be seen: I was going to see my baby on the ultrasound screen – and three days earlier than planned!

We waited as the midwife spread the gel on my stomach.

And then we saw our baby.

I had always thought miscarriage would be immediate. I thought it would be a rush of blood, and pain, and a scream of loss.

I thought it would be loud. But it was not.

I lost my baby in a whisper.

Our baby had died and I never even knew. A silent miscarriage.

In my mind, I had already held my baby close, heard their cry, their laughter – but that potential of a life was taken away in the quiet room in the Early Pregnancy Unit, before being removed completely under the cold, clinical lights of the operating theatre two days later.

I don’t have much time to think about my first baby these days; my life has become engrossed by my two very real, very loud, very demanding little ones, who are my whole world.

But tonight, the final night of Baby Loss Awareness Week, my first baby, I did think of you.

And what I thought was this: that for those almost 12 weeks, you were so very, very real to me.

And you were loved.

babyloss

5 reasons not to stress about weight loss

*Originally featured on The Running Bug*

For many people, running and weight loss go hand in hand. And why shouldn’t they? Running is the best cardio exercise you can do to shift those pounds, given that it burns on average almost 100 calories for every 10 minutes you’re on the move.

But here’s the thing: running has never been about weight loss for me. Yes, occasionally weight loss is a side effect of running (not always, mind – I do like a spot of carb-loading), but it’s not a motivation. It never has been.

The reason lies in my past: in watching my sister battle anorexia throughout her teens and twenties. I have witnessed weight loss at its absolute worst: I have seen its twisted sense of power; I have watched on, helpless, as weight loss – sharp and angular – attempted to claim a previously healthy body for its own.

As a family, we were so very fortunate: my sister fought back. She won.

sisters

I’m more than aware that eating disorders have myriad causes, often not related to wanting to be skinny at all. But that’s a different story (and not really mine to tell). My story is that, having witnessed extreme weight loss, I’m not at all interested in ‘dropping a dress size’, thank you very much.

What I am interested in is running. For me, running is about empowerment. It’s about joy, presence, escapism, me-time and stress relief. It’s about miles covered, not calories burned. It’s about strength. It’s about happiness. It’s about grit and determination. At the end of the day, I give zero f*cks about a number on a scales. (I don’t even own a scales.)

Because of this, I thought I’d share my top 5 reasons why you should give zero f*cks about weight loss, too…

1/ Focus on healthy
I’m not saying you shouldn’t be interested in health. Oh no. I’m ALL for health. But I’m interested in health in a, “Yay, we’ve been for a run and eaten lots of broccoli this week, now let’s have a slice of lemon drizzle cake and enjoy it because it’s yummy” kind of way. Not in a, “How many calories are in this flapjack? Can I eat the flapjack? Oh no, I’ve eaten the flapjack. Now I will feel guilty for seven hours while I manically do sit-ups to try to burn off the flapjack” way. For me, health is about everything in moderation. It’s about cooking from scratch and understanding your ingredients. It’s about fresh, colourful foods. It’s about enjoying what you eat. It’s about not feeling like you’ve ‘failed’ somehow because you also like cake. (And wine.) It’s about exercising for fun, because the endorphin rush makes you FEEL GOOD. It’s basically the 80/20 balance (eat healthily roughly 80 per cent of the time and DO NOT STRESS about that triple chocolate fudge cake).

2/ Get stronger, not skinnier
In a nutshell, focus on what your body can do, not what it looks like. This is such a positive mindset to adopt. Focus on miles covered, not calories burned. Work on your core, because core strength will help you get fitter, faster and will reduce your injury risk. Push yourself because you want a challenge, and because achieving something new is exciting and empowering. Enter a race because working towards a positive goal is uplifting. (It’s also worth noting that muscle is denser than fat. So while you might find your newfound ‘strength’ mindset will see your body shape change, you might not lose much weight at all. Which means you may as well ditch your bathroom scales: they are dead to you now.)

3/ Boost your energy
Let’s get back to basics here: you need energy to run. I guarantee you’ll have a happier, more positive running experience if you’re well hydrated and have taken on adequate calories a couple of hours beforehand, to fuel those miles. Food is your petrol, people!

4/ Be a good role model
This one is a biggie. As a mum of two young children, I’m now a role model (I know! ME! God help them). And as a role model, I want them to see me running; to see me happy, fit and active. I want them to see me enjoying my food. I want them to see just how much fun they can have in life (OK, I admit they aren’t always seeing this – sometimes they are witnessing me picking bits of dried Weetabix off my clothes and swearing under my breath after stepping on another bloody Lego block. Hey, I’m not perfect).

What I am adamant I DON’T want them to see is me prodding and poking my tummy, thighs or bum while looking into a mirror, berating myself. Muttering that I need to lose weight; that I wish I was thinner. I don’t want it to seep into my daughter’s subconscious that her self-worth can be measured by her dress size, or the circumference of her waist. I don’t want her to grow up battling her body, because that’s what she’s witnessed at home. Instead we should be arming our daughters (and sons) against this. We should be proud of our bodies, whatever their size. We run; we are strong; we like cake. End of.

Shoreham Woods 10K

5/ Enjoy the NOW!
Finally, I would like to end the worryingly common and completely incorrect assumption that all runners are slim and athletic-looking. We are not. Instead, we are an eclectic bunch of all shapes and sizes. Hooray for diversity! This means that you do not have to become slim and athletic-looking to be able to call yourself a runner. If you’re a couple of stone heavier than you would like to be and have just started a run/walk programme, congratulations – you are a runner! So enjoy being a runner NOW, whatever your size and ability. Enjoy making progress, but also enjoy the moment – even if it hurts. Running is worth it – for the joy, not for the dress size you may or may not achieve because of it.

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*Originally featured on The Running Bug*